Walkers at march to take ‘Cali Pledge’

By Olivia Tattory

While the immediate shockwaves of freshman Gary DeVercelly’s death have slowly subsided, the Rider community will march in his memory on Monday, April 16.

“The Cali March” will start at 5 p.m. in front of Moore Library and follow the path to the Poyda Residence Hall, continuing on the road past the Phi Kappa Tau (PKT) fraternity house and finally
returning to the library steps.

In an effort to increase the awareness of binge drinking’s dangerous effects and to raise money for the scholarship in “Cali” DeVercelly’s name, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member Steven Klemchalk is asking all who attend to donate a minimum of $10.

“Our goal is to raise $10,000 and [to get] 1,000 people at the march,” said Klemchalk, who is also the Lawrenceville SGA president.

The University will be distributing small baseball-sized cards to all those in attendance, bearing a photo of DeVercelly on one side and “The Cali Pledge” on the other. The pledge, which will be read at the beginning of the march, lists three objectives for individuals to follow in memory of DeVercelly:

I pledge to:
–Serve as my fellow
students’ keeper and seek help for myself or others when needed.
–Refrain from abusing alcohol and participating in harmful drinking games.
–Ensure that neither I nor any of my friends will drive under the influence.
According to Klemchalk, the Greek community will kick off “Greek Week 2007” in honor of DeVercelly, starting with the march.

Brian Pawelko, a brother of PKT and Lawrenceville SGA vice president-elect, is optimistic about the turnout for Monday’s march.

“The faculty and administration are giving their full support — [we’re] just looking for the student support now,” said Pawelko.

Pawelko noted that he is expecting most, if not all members of PKT to participate in the march as individuals.

“We always said Rider is a family and this is our chance to show it,” said Klemchalk.

On Monday, April 9, a funeral service was held for DeVercelly in his hometown of Long Beach, Calif. According to the Long Beach Press – Telegram, nearly 1,000 people attended the funeral.

During the service, DeVercelly’s parents spoke, along with a teary reflection by Gary’s 13-year-old sister Emily, said Dean of Students Tony Campbell.

Campbell, who flew to California for the funeral, represented Rider and spoke to the large crowd of mourners.

In an obituary published in the Long Beach Press – Telegram, the family asked donations to be made to the DeVercelly Scholarship Fund: Rider University/Office of University Advancement.

— Additional reporting by Mike Caputo.

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